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Great Gatherings In The Digital Era
How I Caught Covid And Had The Time Of My Life
In our current era of ever expanding technology, more than ever, the only constant is change.
Change that promises to affect every aspect of life, for better or worse, and usher in new methods and experiences in how we work, play and interact.
So much change, perhaps, that it seems it will alter how we create and experience art.
And some would argue, with AI, technology could even change WHO creates the art, a position up to this point reserved for the abilities of humans.
All of that is the subject of much debate and the various details and topics of which I hope to explore in this channel, but there is one aspect of shared human experience that I have incredible confidence will not suffer relegation to history and nostalgia due to the advent of new tech:
By Great Gatherings, I mean concerts, festivals, conferences, fairs, sporting events, and any other physical congregation of passionate, like-minded people under the intention and excitement of shared experience.
Since the advent of social media, you could argue casual gatherings might have altered and dwindled in frequency and depth, but large events seem to be more popular now that ever.
There is something primal and fundamental to the essence of humanity that craves the magic of connection with others in a grand physical space taking in moments and memories of a grand event.
I think back to The Roman Empire (TikTok trends notwithstanding) and the grandeur of The Colosseum and the events and incidents that occurred there. The echos of which still inspire stories in film and media today.
Modern sports continue to amaze in their popularity and revenue, and in post-pandemic 2023 large music festivals and tours are experiencing massive popularity at bigger levels than ever.
Large events have always been a draw for humanity, but I feel that our new interconnected, yet solitary, digital world is bringing us to crave that energy even more.
With the expansion of technology and social media, virtual events have become more of an option and increased in popularity. Examples like Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert, Justin Beiber on Wave and David Guetta performing within the game Roblox.
These events were met with impressive success, a contributing factor being the massive scale at which global online connection can reach. But it would be hard to argue that these are the same experience as being in the same venue as fifty thousand other screaming fans. It’s impressive but a completely different energy. I would strongly argue that there is little chance of replacement of physical events by virtual ones, at least until Neuralink masters neuro-digital integration at a consumer scale (basically The Matrix).
Instead I believe these online events to be a convenient alternative or perhaps even a precursor or marketing effort in support of the more impactful in-person versions.
The Great Gathering of Aftershock Festival
A couple of weeks ago I attended of of my favorite music festivals (7th year running), Aftershock Festival, in Sacramento, CA. I was almost going to skip this year since a couple friends couldn’t make it, but the primal call of energy and shared experience pulled me to buy a ticket and join last minute.
I’m so glad that I did, because in that that I walked up to the gates I was transformed from a state of stress and overwork in cyclical existence to a mood of excitement and engagement and the feeling of being part of something bigger. Something present, something important, something shared and worth being a part of.
I’ve always loved music festivals, and partly to my surprise, I love them as much now as when I was younger. The energy, the grandiosity, the like-minded people united in a common cause. They are something that always guarantees new memories and lasting experiences, which are things seemingly harder to come by as one ages in this screen filled, desk ridden world.
Great Gatherings of people bring out something primal and tribal in us that elevates our consciousness in the moment and imbues us with a greater energy. As much as I am prone to overanalyze for meaning in general, I don’t even feel the need to pursue the notion in this case, I’m just acknowledging and enjoying the fact.
I hold greater excitement for Great Gatherings in the digital era of advanced tech with the promise that technology will evolve to further enhance experiences by better connecting people and performers with experiences, opportunities and each other.
As mentioned earlier, virtual events could continue to grow in support of physical events, raising marketing awareness of a tour or allowing fans and friends to connect and collaborate virtually and plan to meeting in real life.
I can imagine interactive elements to a festival where interconnected fans can vote on encore songs, or qualify for exclusive experience for being at a certain stage or more deeply connect with new friends to create a more lasting shared experience online after an event has passed.
With the speed and breadth of technology growing as it is, the possibilities of enhancement and interactivity around physical events is nearly endless. I look forward to seeing and experiencing which features and enhancements the market and its users choose.
At the end of the day I keep coming back to the fact that art and social experiences are inherently human constructs and will never completely be taken over by AI or economic minded orchestrators trying to mimic the real essence of human connection inherent in each. Instead, technology will enable and enhance those with vision and understanding of these primal human connections and make the Great Gatherings of the future even better.
P.S. One of the downsides of physical gatherings is the risk of such things as transmissible diseases like a cold, the flu, or Covid-19, the latter of which I indeed caught in my visit to Aftershock Festival in Sacramento. I blame this reason on this publication missing a week last week and me missing a week of my life in general, but for the memories and experiences, it was totally worth it!! 🤘😆🤘
Exciting AI Tech
StabilityAI, the company behind the popular generative AI text-to-image model Stable Diffusion has recently released their suite of audio tools that includes text-to-audio generation of complete music, as well as stems and samples. StabilityAI claims to be centered in open source and innovating with creators and artists in mind in comparison to other big tech rivals. I’m planning on playing with StableAudio and posting about it a bunch in the future.
Runway - Gen2
The current leader in the text-to-video generative AI space with their model, Gen2, Runway is revolutionizing video, media and content creation with their offerings. Gen2 allows you to input a text prompt and get a generated video based on the input. There is still some ways to go with this tech, but the progress and possibility is exciting. I’ll definitely be talking more about generative video and Runway in the future.
My Creative Updates
After a couple months of being extremely busy (too busy) with client work, travel and recently Covid, I am greatly looking forward to returning to my studio to continue work on my debut solo EP.
I’m currently working on programming drums for a few songs which I hope to finish in the next couple weeks. I just got my guitars back from the shop, so I’ll probably start recording guitars and bass to songs as I finish drums for them.
My hope is to have a single or two out by the end of the year and ideally the whole EP (5-6 songs) by early next year. I’m definitely just playing it by ear as far as style and format, but this set looks to be more guitar and rock based, which is what I know best from a songwriting perspective. I hope to follow with some more synthy, digital inspired stuff as well, but the main goal is to push through procrastination and perfectionism and start releasing songs. Not releasing more music at this point of my life is one of my greatest regrets, so I’m determined to change that.
Anyway, I’ll be posting more updates here as I go, so thanks for joining in the journey!!
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